Former Crs for new council

THREE former Wakool Shire councillors have won the Greater Wakool Ward election for the new Murray River Council.

Former mayor Neil Gorey, Alan Mathers and Ann Crowe managed to come out on top after last Saturday's inaugural election.

Murray River Council was established following the forced merger of Wakool Shire and the neighbouring Murray Shire in May 2016.

Both former councils opposed the merge.

Administrator David Shaw was appointed to oversee the implementation of the new council through to the election.

Nine councillors have been elected to represent more than 11,400 residents across three wards - Moama, Greater Murray and Greater Wakool - that span more than 11,000 square kilometres from Tooleybuc to Moama.

For Moama, Nicole Cohen, Chris Bilkey and Gen Campbell won the race, while in Greater Murray Geoff Wise, Tom Weyrich and Tony Aquino were successful.

In the Greater Wakool Ward, which incorporates the townships of Barham, Wakool, Moulamein, Murray Downs and Tooleybuc, there was a turnout of 73.08 per cent with 1936 out of 2649 enrolled residents voting.

Barham-based Mr Gorey swept into the new council with 763 or 40.96 per cent of first preference votes.

"The next thing will be to get together and work to elect a mayor and get ready for our first meeting," Mr Gorey said.

Mr Gorey, who said the new council must re-engage with neighbouring councils, Balranald, Gannawarra and Swan Hill, said he was eager to work with the eight other councillors.

"It's very good to have Ann on council representing the western area of the ward, especially across Tooleybuc where there is land development within agriculture."

Fellow Barham-based dairy farmer Alan Mathers attracted 25.17 per cent of first preference votes (469 votes) while Murray Downs-based Ann Crowe, who nominated to represent the western area of the ward, also claimed a historic seat on the new council with 374 votes (20.08 per cent).

Ms Crowe said she was concerned about the lack of potential representation in the western area had she not nominated.

Asked if she thought residents elected experienced former councillors for stability and knowledge in the new council, Ms Crowe said residents had a good level of confidence in candidates like Mr Gorey.

"There are so many unknowns and have to get the nine people working together," she said.

Mr Mathers thanked the community for their support.

"Now we need to see if we can make it work," Mr Mathers said.

He declined to speculate on who had the potential to be mayor.

"We have had issues with governance in both former councils in the past and the last thing we should be doing is speculating on the new council's makeup," Mr Mathers said.

"We all need to sit down and meet before anything else."

The remaining candidates Katherine O'Brien only managed 141 votes while Christine Dartnell attracted 116 votes.

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